Dining at Walt Disney World ® - The Definitive Guide

Make every minute & every dollar of your Disney vacation count!

Dining at Walt Disney World ® should be a magical experience, but when choosing from over 300 on property dining choices, it can be overwhelming. That is why “Dining at Walt Disney World ® – The Definitive Guide “ was created

Inside these pages you will find in-depth advice including:

  • Detailed descriptions of every Disney dining venue
  • Understanding and receiving the best value from the Disney Dining Plan
  • How to snag hard-to-get dining reservations
  • Saving time and money while dining
  • What are the “must do ” character meals?
  • Disney Dining.com exclusive Picks and Tips

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So you’ve only got one day, huh? Maybe it’s a weekend getaway, a last minute escape, or this Park simply got voted off the island. If you only have one day to enjoy and experience Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, you have to be strategic. Here’s my advice for a one day plan for Animal Kingdom:

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1. FastPass+ Early

This is essential. Seems obvious to some, I know. But if you only have one day in the park, you should secure FastPasses as early as humanly possible. In terms of which ones to grab, go for anything Pandora related first. Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey go super quickly. If you have room, snag a Safari too. Everything else in Animal Kingdom you can do Standby without much trouble.



2. Arrive in the Morning

For some, this might mean doing rope drop. For others, it means having a leisurely breakfast and coming in when you’re ready. I don’t find rope drop to be necessary at Animal Kingdom – in fact, it kind of stresses me out. But some people swear by it, so that’s up to your style. If you arrive to the park early, you can check off a lot of your “must-do” list in the morning.

3. Do Kilimanjaro Safari Either First or Last Thing

The animals on the reserve are most active in the cooler weather, so you have a must better chance of seeing them either first thing in the morning, or at sunset. These are the times when guests are more likely to see the lions moving around (or roaring!) and the cheetahs out in the open.


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4. Determine if DinoLand is Necessary for You

Here’s the thing: I’m not a DinoLand fan. I always skip it, which makes my Animal Kingdom day shorter/easier to fit in all I want to do. Some people love DinoLand. The DINOSAUR ride is thrilling, the smaller coasters are great for kids, the fair-type games are unique to this park, and the playground is fantastic for youngsters. But if you’re not into those things, you can skip this part of the park and save a bunch of time.

5. Single Ride Expedition Everest

If you’re a diehard thrill seeker, you have to sneak in a ride on Expedition Everest. Here’s the snag. If you’ve gotten FastPasses for things in Pandora, you probably didn’t get one for Everest. Luckily, Expedition Everest is one of the few rides that offers a Single Rider option. The downside is that you’re not guaranteed to ride with your family. The upside is you’ll have a much shorter wait.



6. Quick Serve for Meals

Animal Kingdom has lots of little carts and quick serve food options. It also has three sit down restaurants choices: Yak & Yeti, Tusker House, and Tiffins. All are fantastic. Eating at any of these restaurants is great, but with so little time in Animal Kingdom, I’d argue that Quick Serve is good enough. Some of my favorite spots are Flametree Barbeque, Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes, and Satu’li Canteen.

7. Take a Break in Festival of the Lion King

You’ve had a long day already. Feet tired? Can’t stop sweating? Yeah, we get you. Head on down to Africa to enjoy this 30-minute, Broadway-style retelling of the Lion King. It’s consistently a fan favorite.



8. Make Time for the Trails

It can be easy to get swept up in Pandora, or head straight for the thrill rides in Animal Kingdom. But Animal Kingdom started simply, and it started with animals. Make sure to take time in your hectic day to slow down and wander down some side trails. Meander through the Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls to truly experience these creatures.

9. Snap a Tree of Life Picture

It’s a necessity, right? Right in front of the Tree is a photo spot with Disney photographers. The trouble with this is it’s usually busy, which means long lines and people in your shot. If you don’t mind ditching the Memory Maker photo, head to the designated smoking area of the Park on the trail from Africa to Asia. Directly across from this is a gorgeous view of the Tree of Life. Not many people consider it, but it has views of the water and the Tree without being bombarded with people.

[caption id="attachment_84291" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Photo Credit: Disney[/caption]

10. End the Day with Rivers of Light

Now that Animal Kingdom is open later, it provides guests the perfect ending: Rivers of Light. This incredible water and light show dazzles guests nightly. With two nightly performances and a massive arena, everyone can be a part of this event. - A One-Day Plan for Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World

A stay at Disney’s Yacht Club is a magical experience.  When staying here, take a day to explore and enjoy the resort. Here is a suggestion of how to spend your resort day at Disney’s Yacht Club.

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1. Take a Stroll & Grab Breakfast

Start the morning by taking a walk or boat ride around to Boardwalk.  As you stroll, grab some breakfast to enjoy along the way.  For basic pastries, you can stop at the Market at Ale and Compass. When you return from your morning adventures, take time to explore the resort itself as well.  Take the steps from the main lobby up to the second floor and look at all the special details that Disney has put into place to keep with the nautical theme.  In the lobby, check out the different ships as well as the big globe located outside of the marketplace.  You could even explore for hidden Mickeys.



2. Swim Time

As the afternoon approaches you will want to head to the pool. Stormalong Bay is Disney’s most sought-after pool on property.  Featuring a sand bottom, a pirate ship slide as well as three different whirlpools and a lazy river, you are sure to have a great time here.

3. Lunch at the Pool

While enjoying the pool, grab some lunch from Hurricane Hanna’s.  This location offers basic food such as burgers, chicken and sandwiches.  If you are wanting something more, head into Beaches and Cream or grab something from the market to bring back to the pool.


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4. Fun at the Arcade

If families are wanting to get out of the sun, they can head to the arcade for some friendly competition.  This is a fun way for families to spend some time together while being out of the Florida sun.

5. Ice Cream at Beaches & Cream

Another way to get out of the sun is to grab some ice cream from Beaches and Cream.  Located right outside of Stormalong Bay, this top-notch ice cream parlor is not to be missed.



6. Pirate Adventure Cruise

As the evening approaches, there are two options to think about.  If you have kids, consider the Pirate Adventure Cruise.  This cruise allows kids ages 4 to 12 to hunt for hidden treasure, enjoy some food and travel on a pirate ship.  This two-hour cruise allows parents to sneak in some alone time at Ale and Compass Lounge.  This is a great place for grown-ups to relax, grab an appetizer and drink while the kids enjoy some treasure hunting.

7. Dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse

Other options for supper include the signature dining experience at Yachtsman Steakhouse.  Those wanting a fine dining experience should consider dining here for supper.  With excellent steaks and sides, guests won’t be disappointed.



8. A Relaxing Evening

After a great meal, head down to the beach where you can enjoy the evening in a hammock or watch a movie under the stars.  Following a magical, relaxing day at Yacht Club this is a fantastic way to wrap up the day. - Planning Your Resort Day at the Yacht Club Resort at Walt Disney World

On any given day at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, there’s more than enough to keep even the most ambitious guest busy!  And that’s not even counting the special activities and events you’ll enjoy during the holidays (don’t miss your chance to order seasonal beverages and sweets out of the life-size gingerbread house, made fresh every year).  You don’t have to leave the resort to enjoy a full day of fun, relaxation and pampering.  Here’s our plan for a perfect resort day at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

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1. Breakfast

It’s the most important meal of the day, so start it off right with the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare.  You’ll enjoy the breakfast of your dreams, including Mickey waffles, omelets designed just for you, pancakes, ham and much more.  While you’re feasting, say hi to your favorite Disney characters, including Alice in Wonderland, Tigger, the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, and Winnie the Pooh.



2. Senses Treatment

Next up is a relaxing treatment at the Grand Floridian’s resident spa, Senses. Choose from an array of massages, facials, body wraps and aromatherapy, with plenty of soothing lighting and music to set the scene.  You’ll have access to the steam room, relaxation lounges and whirlpool on the day of your visit, and there are even special services for young guests aged 4-12.  There’s no better way to pamper the entire family!

3. Shops

Now that you’re fully relaxed, you’re ready to tackle some serious shopping at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa’s excellent shops.  Whether you’re looking for resort-specific merchandise, Walt Disney World apparel, Vinylmation figures, a new pin for your collection, or some souvenirs for friends back home, there’s a shop for you.  Our pick?  Spend some time in Basin White choosing some luxurious soaps and lotions (you can even create your own bath salts) that will have you feeling – and smelling – like a million bucks!

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4. Pool Fun

It’s time for some poolside fun!  Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa has two pools for you to enjoy – and both are zero-entry pools.  The Courtyard Pool is a peaceful pool with a whirlpool, while the Beach Pool, overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon, provides a more exciting environment with its waterslide and waterfalls.  You might still be full from your buffet breakfast, but if you’re hungry, grab a snack and a specialty drink at Beaches Pool Bar and Grill or the Courtyard Pool Bar.  You can rent a boat to sail the lagoon, or if a less active afternoon is more appealing, rent a cabana by the pool, complete with tv, fruit basket and stocked fridge.



5. Afternoon Tea

With all that relaxing and poolside fun, you’re bound to feel like royalty.  Continue the feeling by stopping by the Garden View Tea Room for mid-late afternoon tea (you’ll want to make a reservation) – this is one of WDW’s hidden gems, and highly recommended! The surroundings are perfectly elegant, and the windows overlook the resort’s beautiful gardens and the lagoon.  There are different tea services available here, and you’ll enjoy sandwiches, scones, pastries – and of course, your choice of tea!

6. Enjoy the Lobby

By late afternoon, the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra will be playing their melodic Dixieland, jazz, Ragtime and Disney tunes in the resort’s lobby.  Curl up in one of the many lobby chairs and sofas and enjoy this captivating and extremely talented group of musicians.  There’s also a piano player who tickles the ivories on the grand piano (alternating with the orchestra’s performances) – there’s nothing like being serenaded in what’s arguably the most beautiful resort lobby on property!  While you’re listening, take the opportunity to look around and admire the stunning design and scale of the lobby.  Adorned with not one, but two oversized crystal chandeliers, a huge birdcage, a grand staircase and a marble floor (keep your eyes peeled for hidden Disney characters!), this lobby positively oozes opulence.



7. Dinner

Once the tone for dinner has been set by your pre-dinner music and visual tour of the magical lobby, it’s time for dinner at the award-winning Victoria and Albert’s.  No other restaurant in Walt Disney World comes more highly recommended – though of course you’ll pay heavily for the privilege of dining here!  With 8 courses that feature fresh fish, meat and produce sourced from global markets every day, each dish here is a true masterpiece, created by the chef and his team to delight your taste buds.  You’ll need to dress for dinner here, as there’s a dress code – but once you see the dining room (think fine Italian table linens, delicate china, fresh-cut flowers, and a harpist to accompany your meal), you’ll be glad you did!

8. Campfire and Movie

But wait, the fun’s not over yet!  Head outside to enjoy a complimentary campfire on the beach – because who doesn’t love the smell of woodsmoke?  If you aren’t still full from dinner, you can even roast marshmallows!  And stick around after the campfire to chill out at the Courtyard Pool with a Disney movie on the jumbo screen.  Just make sure you leave yourself time to get to the beach, because you won’t want to miss the final event of your resort day…

9. Fireworks

While of course the best view of Walt Disney World fireworks is always from within the park itself, there are other places on property where lucky guests can enjoy an evening fireworks display.  One of these places is the beach at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, where you’ll get a great view of the Happily Ever After fireworks spectacle over Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom.  So make sure you stake out a spot on the beach in time for the fireworks, to put the perfect cap on your magical resort day at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!

- Planning Your Resort Day at the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World

Some might say that going to Disney World for a weekend is pointless. They might claim you could never see or do enough in just two or three days. Now, obviously you won’t be seeing or doing everything in Disney World in a single weekend, but we completely disagree that visiting for a few days is a silly choice. In fact, we say take advantage of any and all opportunities you have to visit this magical place, no matter how brief! Of course, if you are visiting for just a weekend, you will want to have some sort of game plan in order to ensure you get the very most out of your time. The tips below should help you make a plan that will take full advantage of your brief time in Disney.

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1. Where to Stay

The first choice you have to make is where to stay. Clearly, staying on-property is a must due to your time constraints. On top of that, we highly recommend staying at one of the three “Monorail Resorts” near Magic Kingdom. These hotels provide quick and easy access to transportation, meaning you can get from point A to point B more quickly instead of wasting time traveling. The three Monorail Resorts include the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian. All are Deluxe Resorts, meaning you’ll be waited on hand and foot, and they all have the very best amenities so you’ll be able to fully relax despite the short amount of time you have.



2. Ticket to Buy

Wondering which ticket to purchase? Our recommendation is a 3-day ticket with the park hopper option. This will allow you to spend as much time as possible in the parks over the weekend and will give you the chance to see all four parks even though you only have 3 days to play.

3. Reservations to Make

One of the best ways to save time during your trip is to plan, plan, plan and make all the reservations you possibly can. Aside from booking your hotel room and ordering tickets, here are the reservations we recommend making in advance:

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4. Day One (Friday): Epcot

For this itinerary, you’ll begin your weekend by visiting Epcot. Head to the park as soon as you check into your hotel in the afternoon and stay until closing time. We recommend checking out Future World first and then heading back to the World Showcase for dinner and fireworks.



5. Day Two (Saturday): Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom easily requires a full day. Therefore, your Saturday will be dedicated to this classic park.



6. Day Three (Sunday): Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

This final park day will be split between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. It does require that you skip some things, but you should be able to see the highlights.





7. Saying Goodbye!

At this point, you will likely need to head back to the hotel to catch your Magical Express to the airport. Say your goodbyes to Disney World and leave knowing you saw all of the highlights in just one weekend!

- A Weekend Getaway Plan for Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is the park that most think of when they dream about their vacation to Walt Disney World.  They imagine the castle, main street, Mickey Mouse and magic.  If you have two days to experience Magic Kingdom, how should you spend them?  What rides should you ride?  What food should you enjoy?  Here is a two day break down of Magic Kingdom.

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DAY ONE: Fantasyland and More

  1. Arrive Early: The key to Magic Kingdom is to get there early. If you are arriving by Disney transportation, you will want to arrive around 60 minutes ahead of park opening. If arriving by car, you will want to arrive to the parking lot around 60-90 minutes ahead of park opening. This allows you to get through security and the touch points prior to the official park opening.

  2. Get Ready for Fantasyland: Typically, guests are allowed onto Main Street before the park is officially open.  Use this time to take those iconic pictures in front of the castle. After you have captured those magical moments, head over towards to side of the castle to get ready to head to Fantasyland. When the park opens, this is the direction you will want to head.

  3. Classics in Fantasyland: Assuming that you have fastpasses to Seven Dwarf Mine Train, when the park opens you are going to want to hit up the classics in Fantasyland.  Ride Peter Pan’s Flight, Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, it’s a Small World and Under the Sea- Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  This will typically take around an hour to two hours if moving quickly through the park.

  4. Stop by Gaston's Tavern: Once you have ridden these, you will want to stop for a snack at Gaston’s Tavern.  The cinnamon roll is a delicious treat to share after a magical start to the day.

  5. FastPass Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: We would recommend having a fastpass for Seven Dwarf Mine between 9:30 and 11.  This will allow you to ride following your snack.

  6. More Fantasyland Attractions: After experiencing Seven Dwarf Mine Train, you will want to sneak in some more experiences in Fantasyland such as Dumbo, Barnstormer, or Prince Charming Regal Carrousel or Mickey’s Philharmagic. These are typically shorter waits and move quickly.

  7. Lunch Break: Moving towards Tomorrowland around lunch time will be the next step. You will need to determine where you would prefer to eat lunch prior to moving to Tomorrowland. In Fantasyland, you can enjoy food at Pinocchio Village House or get a reservation at Be Our Guest. In Tomorrowland, food can be enjoyed at Comic Rays.

  8. Tomorrowland FastPasses: We would recommend having fastpasses for rides such as Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in Tomorrowland. Making these reservations for times between 11 and 1 will be a great use and allow you to avoid the building crowds.

  9. Snag More FastPasses! Once you have used all three of your fastpasses, we HIGHLY recommend getting on My Disney Experience and trying to book an additional fastpass. As our focus on day one is Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, to avoid crisscrossing around the park, search for rides in these two lands if possible. Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor, Under the Seas- Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and sometimes Buzz Lightyear all have options for fastpasses later in the day.

  10. Tomorrowland Classics: Following lunch and using your original fastpasses, check out some rides in Tomorrowland.  Carousel of Progress, PeopleMover and Monsters Inc Laugh Floor are all great options for the afternoon.  These attractions hold a lot of people and often have shorter lines.

  11. Supper Time: As evening gets closer, start processing your food options for supper.  If Tomorrowland Terrace is opened, this is a great, low key option for food.  Think about heading to Casey’s Corner for corn dog nuggets as well.

  12. Get Ready for Happily Ever After: We are going to recommend experiencing Happily Ever After, the evening firework show, on this first night.  This is a great way to wrap up a magical day at Magic Kingdom.  We have learned it is a good idea to catch the evening shows when you can in case weather cancels the show later on in your vacation.

  13. Happily Ever After (with a treat!): Grab some ice cream from Main Street, find a comfy spot around the plaza and get ready for a magical, tear jerking experience from Happily Ever After.  Once the show is over, avoid the instinct to rush out of the park.  Instead, take some time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Magic Kingdom.  If you stick around for 30-45 minutes after the fireworks show, your wait at the buses will be less and you won’t be fighting the crowds of people leaving.


Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Happily Ever After make up our first magical day in Magic Kingdom.


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DAY TWO: Adventureland and Frontierland

  1. Arrive Early: Once again, we highly recommend getting to the Magic Kingdom prior to park opening.  This will allow you to get head of the crowds and move through Main Street towards your destination.  On day two, we are going to recommend you head to Adventureland to start your day.

  2. Adventureland Awaits: Begin your day by taking on adventure with Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean and Magic Carpets of Aladdin.

  3. FastPasses Recommendations: On this day, we recommend getting fastpasses for Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain and Haunted Mansion. Try to get these for 9,10,11 or noon.  If this is possible, after you complete the rides in Adventureland, it will be time to head to Frontierland for the wettest and wildest rides in the park.  We typically try to hit our fastpasses for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain back to back.  This helps keep our wait time down and prevents us from standing around waiting for the next ride.  If you do have some down time, grab a snack at one of the many kiosks around Frontierland.

  4. Frontierland and Liberty Square: After taking on the mountains of Frontierland, head over for your Haunted Mansion fastpass in Liberty Square. If it isn’t time for your fastpass, consider checking out Country Bear Jamboree or Hall of Presidents on your way.  If you haven’t gotten a snack yet, you could stop at Sleepy Hollow for delicious treats like funnel cake and waffles.

  5. Lunch Break: If lunch time is approaching, think about a sit-down meal at Liberty Tree Tavern. This Thanksgiving style meal all year long is a guest favorite.  Another option is Columbia Harbour House. A quick service location with lots of seats is a great escape from the heat and crowds.

  6. Check Out the Entertainment: Following the use of all your fastpasses and lunch, hopefully you are able to snag some rolling fastpasses for rides that you either haven’t been on yet or would like to ride again. As you wait for these fastpasses, try to take time to catch some of the street performances on Main Street and at the castle.  Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire is performed around five times throughout the day. Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party is an upbeat performance that takes place down Main Street and around the castle hub each day.  It is a fun way for kids, and grown up kids, to interact with favorite characters.

  7. Supper Time: For supper, Tony’s Town Square is a pasta place that would provide a sit-down meal.  For some character interaction there is Crystal Palace.  For a fancier, more relaxed meal you could try Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest both which are two credits on the dining plan and are signature restaurants. If you are looking for a faster meal, try Casey’s Corner or Sleepy Hollow for some comfort food items.

  8. Attractions During Fireworks: If you were able to catch the Happily Ever After show on day one, you can either catch it again because it is so good or ride those favorite rides with lower wait times. Again, either plan to head out before the firework show to avoid the crowds or stay after for around 30 minutes to allow the crowds to thin out.



Magic Kingdom offers so many magical rides, attractions and shows that breaking it down into two days is a great way to help experience the magic. - A Two Day Plan for Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World